Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and learners! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com. In this week’s Lesson, Jesus calls his twelve disciples, gives them authority to do specific things and then tells them who to go to, where to go, and what to do when they get there. These disciples have a MISSION! They have purpose, focus, and intention. These twelve followers of Jesus, these twelve disciples are now the twelve apostles. They have been sent by the One who has authority and they carry with them the authority that Jesus gives. This week we discuss their call and the idea of mission.
Background – The Gospel according to Matthew:
Matthew is also known as Levi the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). Matthew is a tax collector when Jesus finds him sitting at a tax booth. Jesus simply says “follow me” and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew’s immediate response is just like the two sets of brothers we studied last week. As a tax collector, Matthew was likely despised by other Jews because he would have been seen as a collaborator with the Roman Empire. Also, tax collectors were called unclean and often defrauded and cheated people by charging excessive taxes. So Jews did not associate with tax collectors. When Jesus calls a tax collector as his disciple, it is says something about the direction of Jesus’s ministry. In other words, Matthew’s occupation didn’t matter to Jesus. When Jesus called, Matthew followed, and that’s what mattered. Additionally, keep in mind this text is likely written after 70 A.D. The Jewish temple has been destroyed and this text is written to Jewish Christians. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary writes that Matthew’s Gospel is written in part to show “God has intervened to reassert the rightful rule of “the kingdom of heaven” and to impart its blessings to the covenant people of Israel, and ultimately to all nations. Matthew’s main audience is to the nation of Israel and Jewish Christians in particular.
Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:
Last week we studied the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. After learning of the arrest of John the Baptist Jesus withdrew to Galilee and made Capernaum his home. This was significant because it fulfills prophecy spoken by Isaiah. After moving to Galilee Jesus begins to proclaim “repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near”. He then calls his first disciples. Two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, as well as, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. In both cases, when Jesus called these disciples they were already busy at work and each of them immediately left their occupations as fishermen to follow Jesus. The text does not say whether they already knew who Jesus was but we can be sure they believed what Jesus was preaching. Last week Jesus called his first disciples. This week we continue with the theme of being called and add to it the idea of having a mission or purpose. Townsend and Boyd’s Commentary title this week’s lesson “Call and Mission”. Standard Commentary titles it “Called to Mission”. The Scripture text comes from Matthew 10:1-15.
What takes place in this passage:
Matthew 10:1-15 is the answer to the problem exposed in Matthew 9:35-38. The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few. The answer to the problem in chapter 9 is twelve empowered disciples that can preach Jesus’ message to the twelve tribes of Israel. Additionally, there are 6 important facts that should not be overlooked in today’s passage.
1) In verse one; after Jesus selects his 12 disciples he gives them authority to perform specific tasks. Specifically it was power or authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. With this kind of authority people would know that Jesus was in fact who Jesus said he was.
2) Verses two through four is the first time all twelve disciples are listed together. See also, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, and Acts 1:13. “Simon Peter is always listed first; Phillip is always listed fifth and James son of Alphaeus is always listed ninth” (Boyd’s Commentary).
3) In verse five the disciples are told specifically not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans. At this point, Jesus is focused specifically and exclusively on the lost sheep of the house of Israel. After the death and resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 28, the disciples’ mission would be expanded to include all nations.
4) Verse seven tells us their message is to preach that the Kingdom of heaven is near. In other words, God’s reign is near. These were Jewish people looking for a Jewish savior to reign as an earthly king. Luke 17:20-21 tells us that the kingdom of God was with Jesus.
5) Verses 9-10 tell us their mission is not about self-dependence. Rather depend on others who will receive the message.
6) In verses 12 through 15 we see again the importance of hospitality. If you are not received in a house or city, don’t carry that negativity forward with you.
In this text we see where Jesus has called his twelve disciples, given them authority, told them where to go, who to go to, how to go, what to say, and what to do. They have a mission. Staying on task, being on-purpose, choosing what is most important and deciding to achieve what is needed are all ways to accomplish the mission. The twelve disciples didn’t sit at the feet of Jesus just for pleasure. They had a purpose, a mission. You have a purpose, a mission. Jesus gave his disciples instructions but it was their responsibility to do what Jesus said, the way Jesus said do it.
Christians today face this same challenge. As we follow Christ as disciples how do we best live the Christian life. How do we best witness in our homes, churches, and communities? When Jesus told the disciples not to go to the Gentiles and Samaritans, he was focused first on the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Think of it this way, Jesus is trying to get his own house in order first. That was their initial mission. Later the scope of their mission would expand. But starting in our own homes is a good start. As we remain focused, choosing what is most important and deciding what to achieve for Christ in our own homes we should know that God is pleased. But when the time comes for the mission to expand we must also be ready.
Key Characters in the text:
Jesus Christ – Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and according to the Christian church the incarnate second Person of the Trinity. He was crucified on a cross and raised from the dead by the power of God (Acts 3:15; 13:30). His followers (Christians) worship him and seek to obey his will.
Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion):
Disciple – One who follows and learns from another as a pupil. Old Testament prophets had disciples (Isa 8:16), as did John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Matt 9:14). It is used specifically for those who follow Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:1, Luke 6:13, Acts 11:26)
Apostle – One sent to act on the authority of another. It refers to the earliest, closest followers of Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4).
Missionary – One who is sent on a mission, usually by the church, with a focus on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in some way.
Witness – One who testifies of what is known to be true, especially in relation to the Christian gospel. The image is an important one for those who are “witnesses” to Jesus Christ (John 1:7) and the Christian faith (Acts 1:8; 2:32).
Kingdom of Heaven – An equivalent term for “Kingdom of God” found in Matthew’s Gospel.
Kingdom of God – God’s sovereign reign and rule. God’s reign was the major focus of Jesus’ teaching. Its fullness is in the future and yet it has also come in Jesus himself (Luke 10:9, 17:21).
Themes, topics, discussion, or sermon preparation ideas:
- Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
- God is a sending God (see vs 12).
- Shake off the dust – Don’t carry negativity with you (vs 14).
1) Ezekiel 16:49 tells us the people of Sodom were condemned for their lack of hospitality. Jesus instructed his disciples to be hospitable and reminds us that those who reject his message will suffer a worse fate than Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement. In what ways can we demonstrate hospitality in our homes, churches, communities, and nation?
2) There were twelve tribes of Israel and Jesus chose twelve disciples. Do you think this was coincidence or intentional?
3) A disciple is one who learns, an apostle is one who is sent. Discuss differences and similarities between the two.
Decades ago several truly amazing young men and women and I were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army. We swore the oath of office to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That commissioning oath was our fundamental baseline purpose. Everything we would do over the next years and decades would be tied to that oath. Likewise, when we are called and commissioned by Jesus everything we do should be tied to the words of Christ. The words of Jesus are our guide and fundamental baseline instructions. Some of us served a few years then went back to civilian life. Others are still serving. The point is to remain diligent, faithful, and prepared for God to expand your mission.
Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:
Next week marks the third week in the Gospel According to Matthew. As Jesus moves closer to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem we will view a woman who at great expense does her best to bless Jesus. But as is often the case, people misunderstood her good intentions and complained about her good deed. Next week Jesus will show us how important is it to remember the good. I wonder has your good deeds ever been misunderstood? In the coming week, try to remember the good deeds others have done for you. It may be time to jot a note or send an encouraging email or call just to say hello, I’m thinking about you.